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Irene Mincine

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About Irene Mincine

  1. The starbase’s chief cyberneticist, Dr. Michael Bradley, sat at his computer in his office. Lt. Carillon had visited earlier reporting problems with her prosthetic arm and eye. Common issues given the stress of space travel and Starfleet service on the human body, so he ran the standard set of tests that he always ran, and then he ran some more. He went over the results of all of the tests he ran. Val had seemed impatient by the third hour of testing, but the data he was getting didn’t really make sense. The arm and eye themselves were working properly. They were both standard models from 10 years or so ago, with replacement spans of 20 years. The problem seemed to be in the input signals they were getting, so it was with her implants connecting them to her nerves, not the prosthetics themselves. The scanning and diagnostic equipment on the starbase was much more sophisticated than that on the Excalibur and much more sensitive. The conclusion Dr. Bradley came to was that Val seemed to contain a jumble of different sets of implants. Nearly all were standard Starfleet issue, but the configuration was unusual. Common sense told Dr. Bradley that you don’t mix different sets of neural implants. It was dangerous and wore out components at an accelerated rate. Additionally, there was one implant that he couldn’t recognize. It seemed to be hooked into everything. The identification number it contained didn’t match anything in the Starfleet medical database, but Val’s medical file didn’t report anything happening to her outside of Starfleet sickbays. No Starfleet doctor would have implanted a mix like this, but they seemed to be working properly until recently. As far as he could tell, the problem was that the configuration was stressing the implants in ways they weren’t meant to be. They had a 20 year lifespan, like the prosthetics, but they were starting to fail prematurely. This could be treated for a while with neural stabilizer treatments, but eventually he’d have to figure out how to re-create the original configuration, and figure out what the unusual core implant was doing…
  2. Valerie Carillon exited the turbolift near the crew quarters. Alpha shift had ended and with it ended her day at the helm. She knew the ship was in good hands with Ensign Lomar, her beta shift relief. Val, though, wasn’t feeling so well. She had not had much of an appetite lately. The headaches she had been getting were accompanied by bouts of nausea that made scarfing down a replicated sandwich difficult at times. She held her head as she entered her quarters. “Computer, dim lights 50 percent.” The computer acknowledged her order with a chime. The bright lights in her quarters lowered to a level that didn’t make her feel like she was in a dentist’s chair. Having her own quarters wasn’t something Val was quite used to. Back on the old Excalibur, the flight crew generally slept in bunks, if they slept at all, and were ready to spring to action at a moment’s notice. As bridge crew on the new Excalibur, off duty meant off duty. She could still be called up in an emergency, of course, and at this point in the mission you couldn’t discount that possibility. She had become good at hiding certain things over the past few months. It seemed like the only way to ensure that she still had a spot on the crew roster as a 38-year-old pilot with a several-year medical leave of absence on her record, anyway. The headaches, the strange operation of her prosthetics in the morning and evening, the constant feeling that you’re not quite ‘there’, it was all going to be hard to explain if it ever came up on duty, wasn’t it? She was the helmsman of a brand-new Federation cruiser. As long as she was on duty, she could push it all out of her mind and focus on only what needed to be done. But once she was off, or once the medication wore off… Nothing could jeopardize her position. She was too driven to let that become an option. Her shaking hand dug through the drawer next to the sink in the small bathroom area. She picked up a vial and a hypospray, swirling the vial in the air before assembling them together and injecting the vial’s contents into her neck. She closed her eyes with a look of relief on her face while the trembling came to a gradual stop. ‘Is this what I am,’ she thought, ‘a busted toy? I should have been left in pieces in the debris field…’ She had gotten the bioxedrine from a doctor at the starbase she had been stuck on in limbo between Excaliburs. He had a thing for pilots, she was a pilot in need. It was only natural, and totally off her medical records so she could maintain her status. It seemed to keep her in control of her faculties, and she had enough for months… ... Some ops flunky sent Val a message soon after she rose to get ready for duty. There was a yearly audit of personnel records that began a few days earlier. There were several classified personal logs in her personnel file. That’s not entirely odd. The normal assumption would be that it was cover for some clandestine activity, but that plainly wasn’t possible here. The first one on the list was timestamped during her fateful sortie at Chin’toka, which wasn’t exactly a covert op. She didn’t remember recording it, either. Though, she didn’t exactly remember much from around then. Val sighed. Might as well figure out what was so important that it was classified. “Computer play personal log, stardate NNNN.N.” The computer beeped back at her. “Unable to play back log entry.” “Why not?” “Lt. Carillon is not authorized to view this entry.” Problem with the new computer system? Valerie tapped the console in her quarters. “It’s my log entry. How can I not read my own log?” The computer repeated its earlier declaration. “Lt. Carillon is not authorized to view this entry.” Val shook her head. Maybe R’han would be able to figure out what was going on with the lockout.
  3. It was Irene Mincine’s first command, so to speak, and it seemed to be going well. Four scientists from the new Excalibur were on the surface of Elasia in one of the unexplored southern jungles. Irene was the exogeneticist happily bagging up insects; Ensign Valdar, geologist (and her latest fling), was taking rock samples for elemental analysis; Ensign Horochuk, a botanist from Earth fresh out of the academy, was cataloging plant life; Ensign Tiran, another biologist from a cold-weather planet, was complaining about the heat, the bugs, and pretty much everything about the jungle biome. “I hate these flying insects,” Ensign Tiran whined as he slapped another one off his forearm, leaving a tiny drop of blood behind. “You’ve used twice as much repellant spray as everyone else, Tiran,” said Irene. “Maybe they like your earthy scent.” Valdar and Horochuk laughed at Tiran’s expense. “It’s getting dark, though. Maybe we can call it a night.” The sun was rapidly setting, the sky turning bright orange and purple. It was a breathtaking sight. Horochuk, in charge of the holographic camera, took plenty of pictures of it all. Lt. Hakran had given her the thumbs-up to remain on the surface for a few days so they had set up camp in a small clearing with easy access to water for their filter canteens. Old-fashioned tents made sure that they disturbed the ecosystem as little as possible with no permanent structures or garbage left behind. All in all, it was a productive trip to the surface.
  4. Valerie Carillon’s orders had come in after the Excalibur decommissioning and it was as she feared. Starfleet had at last decided she was too broken down for full-time flight team duty. Without d’Aubergne to run interference for her, they finally noticed she was 38 years old with a crippling injury history. Piloting fighters was officially out for her and she was going to be reassigned to station-side transport duty once more. This bitterly disappointed her. She called up the office of the admiral who had sent her the message, but they wouldn’t even put her through. Some cajoling and vague threats later, she learned the decision was final. Val was furious and let them know how she felt in no uncertain terms. She wasn’t even sure if she wanted to stay in Starfleet anymore. Well, she had a nice long leave lined up after that. 3 weeks on Risa. Plenty of time to think it over. Even without the threat of war, there were always options for her. She could go into the private security market, fly rustbuckets to protect traders, even work as a mercenary in more lawless frontier regions of the quadrant… well, her morals, instilled by years of Starfleet service, rejected the last one out of hand. Protecting traders in antique impulse fighters is a good way to get killed. Private security might work out, though. But in the end, she decided it was all a bad idea. Her headaches had been getting worse and worse lately. Sometimes her vision would get blurry, or her balance would be off, or she’d get so nauseous. She always blamed her artificial eye even though doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with it. The three weeks of vacation passed in a flash for her. It was on the final day that she received another message from Starfleet. She figured it was a stern warning for the way she acted on subspace, but it wasn’t. It was a message from an unfamiliar commander. It turns out Captain Swain was pleased with her performance at the helm on the last mission of the Excalibur. Despite being placed into an unfamiliar role, she performed admirably and showed all the piloting skills that had made her such a fearsome competitor in the cockpit of a fighter. And now he wanted her back at the helm of his new command. Flying a brand-new starship, huh? Well, that was enticing enough to get her to drop any thoughts of leaving.
  5. Irene left the meeting room distraught. The Excalibur was being decommissioned, and in her mind, it was all her fault. She had the self-control to at least not grab a bottle of bubbly as everyone filed out of what ended up being a wake for the ship. She pondered what was going to be next for her career. Was she doomed to sit station-side forever? Exobiologists and xenogeneticists were in demand for science ship postings, so probably not. But it might be a while before she finds an open spot that isn’t right back where she started, especially when your record is as… spotty as hers in places. The consensus of her personnel reviews was that she was a bright and driven scientist. They also said that she had displayed poor judgment in interpersonal relations, a streak of impulsiveness that was definitely going to land her in trouble, and other things that didn’t bode well for one’s Starfleet career. Irene looked at her PADD. Her schedule had filled up with therapist sessions and orders to exercise and stop drinking courtesy of Dr. Dubois and the starbase’s medical staff. She decided that following Maryse’s orders was a good idea. Before she went back to her quarters, Irene stopped by the starbase’s lounge area for a little afterparty. There were a few other Excalibur crew members there, too. She took a seat near another blueshirt she sorta recognized. “Ensign… Valdar! Geology, right?” The other blueshirt was a Trill about the same age as her. She had short brown hair and spots the same color, contrasting against her fair skin. She smiled warmly. “Stellar cartography. You’re a biologist, yeah? Uh… Mincine? I don’t think we ran into each other much on the ship, but after that meeting I could use some familiar company.” Irene ordered up a glass of water to clear her incoming headache. “Yeah. I wasn’t expecting my first tour to end with a decommissioning.” “Bad timing, that’s all,” Ensign Valdar said before sipping her drink. Irene wasn’t sure what it was, but from the ensign’s facial expression it was something strong. “I was aboard for three years. You?” Irene frowned lightly. “Just about a year for me. I’m hoping I don’t have to start my career over on my next ship.” Ensign Valdar shook her head. “You had the scores to land a biology slot as a fresh cadet, right? You’ll land one as a one-year ensign.” She sipped her drink. “I can’t believe it’s gone. It wasn’t even that long ago it was top-of-the-line.” “Yeah, I can’t believe it either…” Irene stared at her drink, feelings of guilt bubbling to the surface. Ensign Valdar noticed this and changed the subject as fast as she could. “Say, did you really knock out N’Dak with one punch?” Irene lit up again, laughing. “That guy’s a lech! Yeah, he tried to grab my ass at the bar on a starbase before the last mission. Taught him a lesson about that.” They spoke a while longer about this and that, then planned a discreet rendezvous later that evening. Irene’s mood improved over the next month, thanks both to her new friend, a long rest, and the intensive therapy she had been going through. She was starting to learn that it really wasn’t her fault that the ship was wrecked in the time stream. She had done all she could. Nobody could have anticipated anything that came up, because nobody had ever done anything like it before. As the weeks passed, she took a few shifts in the starbase’s xenobiology department to keep her skills sharp. As much as she needed the rest, performing simple experiments made her feel better and useful. The glowing recommendation she got from Commander Moharri, the section chief, couldn’t hurt her chances of finding a new posting when she was ready for full active duty again either.
  6. Eye

    Valerie Carillon was in her guest quarters on the starbase. Like the rest of the Excalibur’s crew, she had been evacuated while the shattered wreck was towed home. As a pilot, Val was unhappy to be effectively grounded. Nothing made her feel alive like being in the cockpit and it seemed like it would be a while before that happened again. It was time for her usual evening ritual. She was washing her face in the small washroom area. She was cautious as always around her artificial eye. She put a patch over it to protect it during the night. She hated the eye which didn’t match the natural blue eye next to it and gave her headaches and was sure was out of focus and was the first thing people noticed when they saw her. She hated the artificial forearm whose color was always just slightly off from the rest of her skin and whose connective seam to her upper arm was always visible to her and that itched when she tried to sleep. Worse, they reminded her of the Borg. They’d taken her parents from her along with so many others that she knew, growing up with the other Starfleet brats on Starbase 44. The very thought that she had anything in common with them repulsed her. She’d asked the same questions so many times. The eye was yellow, Commander Martinez had explained, because of natural genetic variation that precluded using implants with natural colors. Human skin pigmentation naturally varied with age and exposure to UV light, he had explained, so there was no way for it to perfectly match the rest of her skin. The only thing she hated more than the fake parts was the smug commander who lectured her about them. He had answers for everything, even questions she hadn’t asked yet. And he was always so interested in her health and her future. Sometimes she wished they’d left her to die in the debris field, not put her back together in a starbase. There would be no smug commanders and no future. Only eternity. The door chime rang, breaking her out of her cycle of thoughts. “Ugh, hold on,” yelled Val from across the room.
  7. Several days had passed since the USS Mont Blanc had picked up the crew of the stricken Excalibur. It would be some time before they arrived at the starbase. This left many people with not much to do in the meantime. They were at least being taken on the Starfleet equivalent of a cruise ship, so there was at least the badly needed leisure that so many people needed after their temporal adventure. Irene was one of those people who needed a break. The adventure began with her getting skewered on the bridge, continued with the disastrous attempt to get everyone home that nearly killed her and everyone else, and ended with her watching her quantum double disappear into the ether. Logically she knew that the clone went back to wherever it came from, but emotionally this was another blow. She had been observed and interviewed by the Excalibur’s counselor, as had many of her crewmates. It seemed to the counselor that of them all, she was one of the worst off. During the slow trek home and starting even before, when the Enterprise-C had been around, her usual confidence and brashness seemed to be gone. It was replaced with not a timidity which didn’t become a Klingon woman, but a curt attitude to others and a destructive impulse. She became quick to anger and impatient. And worse, with no duty to focus on for the moment, she had far too much time on her hands. She did a lot of thinking during this time. She went over the circumstances over and over in her mind. If only she had done this, or investigated that, the Excalibur might be in one piece, the planet wouldn't have been destroyed and maybe restored, and they wouldn’t have needed to mess with the timeline as much, and the Enterprise-C wouldn’t have been needed. Maryse and others had tried to convince her that everything was fine and there was nothing she could have done. She had been trying to convince herself of that, too. Everything that happened was unforeseeable and it was all experimental. Experiments succeed and they sometimes fail. Irene was, foremost, a scientist, and she had made an educated guess about what would happen at every stage. Unlike genetic analysis of a tomato, the guesses she made had a tremendous impact on the people around her. She was just an ensign barely a year out of the academy! This kind of responsibility wasn’t supposed to fall to her, but where else would it fall? Irene Mincine, daughter of P’Lor, of the Great House of Morvath, didn’t shirk from her duties or her responsibilities. But was it too much for her? While her friends had taken the opportunity to hit up all the amenities of a Galaxy-class starship– the generous holodeck space, the recreation areas, the arboretums, Ten Forward— she had stayed mostly in her guest quarters on deck 16. Sure, she’d gone to Ten Forward, and she’d surreptitiously swiped a few bottles from the collection of the bartender. She had gotten good at that over the years, going back to her days at Vek’s in San Francisco. Her week of travel had become, essentially, one long bender. The room was a mess of empty bottles, both authentic and synthetic. She’d curled up in her bed and locked the doors. Anything to make her forget about what she’d done to the Excalibur and what she’d put its crew through. In her mind, it was all because of her.
  8. Patient Record, Ens. Irene Mincine, USS Excalibur. CC: Dr. Maryse Dubois, CMO, USS Excalibur Patient shows extreme feelings of guilt and self-loathing related to the state of the Excalibur following a science experiment that resulted in catastrophic damage to the ship and nearly resulted in her death. Patient feels directly responsible for the results, given how personal the experiment was for her. (See attached Temporal Lubricant Post-Action Report) Feelings such as inferiority are normal for an officer fresh out of the academy on their first tour of duty and disappear with time. The events of the Excalibur, though, have exacerbated her emotional state to a great extent, especially after her direct encounter with the parallel Ens. Mincine. Combined with her exceptionally strong personality and already volatile emotional state this is a recipe for disaster. Additionally, I believe she is in danger of developing a substance abuse problem given the increase in her self-reported alcohol use during this mission. I recommend abstention from further use for the time being. I do not believe she is a danger to herself or others on account of her strong sense of duty and cultural upbringing. Upon completion of the current mission, I recommend a leave of absence, no less than six weeks, with at least two counseling sessions a week. My recommendation is that Ensign Mincine is not fit for duty at the present time. Dr. Laxinali Tal, counselor, USS Excalibur
  9. (Takes place before the last sim.) Personal log, Ensign Mincine. Stardate… well, the chronometer says 2019.0823 so let’s pretend we’re still in 2388. The science division has come up with a plan to get us home, with the help of our new friends on the Enterprise-C. Since they can’t know about their future or the future of Klingon-Federation relations, they absolutely can’t see me… so I’ve been locked away in an isolation room in sickbay for days now while their medical teams help out with our casualties. Dr. Dubois and the rest of the staff have been chasing them away from anything too fancy. And someone did a good job reprogramming the LCARS screens to emulate early 23rd century computers. It’s kinda weird, you know? The Ent-C is key to getting the Klingons and Federation together. To be so close to a piece of my personal history like that, it’s… I mean, who knows what would have happened if that never took place? Would we have been at war for the next 40 years? I’d never even be born, you know? There’s not gonna be a Klingon embassy in Proxima Centauri if the timeline gets screwed up, so we better get this thing right. I wonder what they’d think of me, the people from back then. Even back when my mom was young, she said there was a lot of antipathy toward Klingons by people in the Federation. It had to be way worse in the generation before that, right? Even if it wasn’t the Ent-C, it’s probably for the best that I’m locked away. Not that I’d put up with that crap, you know. (Laugh) Still, I wish I could meet the captain I idolized when I was a kid, who sacrificed herself and her ship and brought us all together. I wonder what she’s like. Is she really like the books say? I know nobody’s really like what people write about them, but… she’s why I joined Starfleet. She’d why I could join Starfleet. Anyway, we’re beginning the experiment soon and I gotta man one of the monitoring stations. I really hope we get home.
  10. Medical History Overview Personnel: Valerie Carillon Rank: Lieutenant Age: 37 Last updated: 2387 Major Events 2351: Born, New Atlanta, North America, Earth. No medical problems recorded. 2357: Sprained ankle playing basketball in primary school. Repaired, no other problems noted. 2363: Contracted Thylerian flu while on school trip to Alpha Centauri. Full recovery 3 weeks later. 2368: Broken orbital bone caused by a fight in secondary school. Repaired, no vision impairment or long-term effect expected. 2372: Starfleet physical. No problems found. 2373: Starfleet physical. No problems found. 2374: Starfleet physical. No problems found. 2375: Wounded in action, Dominion War. Critical injuries noted. Detailed information in attached file: <file missing> 2376-2386: Records unavailable. Unknown error. 2387: Starfleet physical upon assignment to USS Excalibur performed at Starbase 43. Prosthetics functioning normally.
  11. Valerie Carillon was out like a light. She was being carried back to her quarters by a few drafted orderlies. Sickbay had a look at her after she passed out - it turns out she'd taken way too many of the emergency energy pills to get through her double shift on the bridge. She just needed to sleep it off, and there was no room in sickbay for her. The orderlies tucked her into bed in her quarters. There was no risk of waking her up, nothing short of a nuclear explosion next to her would do that. The high of the energy pills was matched only by the low when they wore off. She had very strange dreams that night. Dreams of falling, dreams of battle, dreams of a strange world where up was down and black was white. The strangest dream of all was one of being on the ground, on a dark planet, shooting Jem’Hadar. She'd had this dream many times before and attributed it to her experiences during the war - though she was a pilot and not a ground pounder, she had often read of ground offensives or heard of them from her friends in the Marines. This dream was slightly different. The battle kept happening over and over. She aimed her rifle, shot a Jem’Hadar soldier, advanced, and ran back to the start. She shot a soldier, advanced, and ran back. Why was she always running back? What was the voice telling her to shoot, advance, and go back? Why did it feel so real? She lost count of how many times she participated in this cycle before waking up, drenched in the sweat of fear. She was so sick of this dream. Twelve hours had passed, according to the computer. She was sitting at her work desk, not in bed. Must have sleepwalked, it happens with the drugs in the pep pills. On a note pad, she had scrawled the Greek letter sigma over and over. She recycled it in the replicator.
  12. A few weeks later… A Starfleet officer was in a firefight with several heavily-armed Jem’Hadar. She was perched behind a cargo container, plasma bolts flying past her. She wore a suit of black form-fitting armor, rather than a uniform. Through a glass pane, several Starfleet brass looked on. Admiral Russell was narrating the action. “It is analyzing their firing pattern. In a few moments, Subject 4 will have a plan of attack that will take them out with as little personal risk as possible,” he said. She waited for exactly the right moment, adjusting her phaser rifle’s sighting. Showing no emotion, she popped up from behind the container, taking out each of the three soldiers with rapid-fire phaser bursts. A buzzer sounded and Subject 4 stood down. The brass looked impressed. Admiral Russell continued. “In our simulations with typical Starfleet personnel, the engagement took four times as long and resulted in casualties 86% of the time. Subject 4 has never been hit in this simulation. “Admirals, this is a war for very existence of the Alpha Quadrant and Project Ares could be instrumental in making sure that existence continues.” One of the admirals, a brown-haired stern-looking man spoke up. “This is… impressive, but raises all kinds of ethical and moral questions that I don’t think you have the answers to. To think that ATAG has been—” Russell cut him off. “Our charter is to bring you advanced technologies and new weapons to win wars and that is exactly what we’ve done. I know the situation out there, just how bad it’s getting, and how many thousands of officers we lost in the last major engagement. But the Dominion is used to dealing with mass assaults, fleet actions. They are not used to infiltration by individuals. One or, perhaps, several of these Subjects could ensure victory in any ground action. What would you have me do, deactivate and destroy our first real chance at victory?” Another admiral was shocked at this statement. “Deactivate her? She’s a human being for God’s sake, no matter what you did to her!” Russell, of course, had a reply to that. “Admiral Ling, what you’re looking at is nothing more than an organic automaton. Subject 4 was, for all intents and purposes, dead when it came to us. Its memories and personality were nil - we didn’t do that part, the Dominion did. And It has no family, no ties to anyone else, nobody to miss. Its parents were—” “Killed by the Borg! I’ve read the report,” yelled Admiral Ling. “And you’ve brought her back to something resembling life.” He let out a long sigh. “I can’t deny that your results are astounding. Research of the wreckage of the Borg ships that we’ve somehow managed to destroy has led to advances in cybernetics, biotechnology, and nanotechnology that we wouldn’t have dreamed possible 20 years ago. I… I just don’t know if I can approve of what you’re doing.” It was a moot point anyway - for within weeks, the war had ended. Admiral Russell’s team and Subject 4 were left without a purpose, and effectively invisible from the public record.
  13. “We may have found our subject.” “Biocompatibility?” “Preliminary testing shows 97.3%. We’ll have a more accurate number once she arrives.” “97%? And you’re sure the originals didn’t come from…” “No, no, of course not. No direct genetic relation.” “Current status?” “Being transported to Starbase 55 from where we found her in Chin'toka. Critical injuries, vacuum exposure, possible brain damage, the works. She’s a goner… unless our experiment works, of course.” “…” “Admiral?” “You may proceed with the experiment. Have the equipment transported to Starbase 55. Hopefully this works better than last time, Commander.” — An emergency medical team was standing by in the main ward of Starbase 55. The chief medical officer, a gray-haired and round doctor, was briefing his team on a patient who was about to arrive. “ETA five minutes. We don’t know how long she was out there, exactly, but—” A tall, red-shirted commander entered the ward. He looked to be in his 40s, very fit, and very intimidating. He waved his arm dismissively. “Everybody out except the CMO. Come on, let’s go, time is critical.” “Excuse me! This is my ward, Commander, and I demand an explanation. We have our own critical patient coming here in five minutes!” The doctor was hopping mad at this intrusion. The commander went over some notes, not even looking at the CMO when he replied. “Actually, my team has a patient coming here in five minutes. I need these supplies delivered to the surgical ward immediately. And you can’t know what they’re for, so don’t ask… Pete, was it?” This only enraged the CMO further. “You will address me as Doctor Singh, Commander…” “Commander Felipe Martinez, and these orders come directly from Admiral Russell at Starfleet Command.” He shoved a padd in the CMO’s face. “Now get a move on, we have no time!” Dr. Singh looked over the orders on the padd and was disappointed - Martinez did have orders from the admiral after all. “My ward is at your disposal, but that’s all you’ll get from me. This doesn’t say anything about my assistance.” Martinez rallied his assistants, who were filling the ward, to gather up the supplies on the list. Singh continued reading the padd, which detailed some of the required equipment as well. It certainly wasn’t standard medical equipment. It seemed to do more to do with cybernetics than with any kind of medicine he’s done. Commander Martinez was otherwise occupied and spoke with his back turned. “Patterns are already uploaded to their replicators, lieutenant. Everything from this point on is classified level Sigma.” Other personnel were filing in and taking over the ward. A rolling cart with several secure cases (marked classified) was pushed in by an engineer. Dr. Singh wandered off to his office to write a letter of protest. Martinez’s combadge chirped. “The runabout with Subject 4 has arrived, Commander. Ready to transport on your command.” He made sure that the room was empty except for his team, which by now consisted of several blue-shirted doctors and several yellow-shirted engineers, then replied. “OK, we’re ready.” With a sparkle of blue light, a young human lieutenant appeared on the bed in the center of the ward. She was grievously injured, but alive. — “Update, Commander.” “The installation of the implants was successful. Metabolic activity is slowly being increased to normal. Brain activity is near baseline.” “Her memory engrams?” “Unrecoverable. The damage was too severe.” “I see. Maybe it’s for the best given her personal history with the Borg.” “Agreed. Is that all, Admiral?” “That’s it. I await your full report at 0730. Russell out.”
  14. Irene opened her eyes. She was laying down, looking up at a stormy sky, thunder and lightning. Water sprayed her. She realized it was more than just rainwater, when it sprayed red in the heavy wind. She was on some kind of seafaring vessel. Her mind was foggy, more like she hadn’t slept in a week than that she just woke up. She climbed to her feet, the rocking of the deck making her queasy - it came to her that she never was comfortable on watercraft. Irene also realized she was wearing a Klingon warrior’s uniform, not a Starfleet uniform. It was heavy and uncomfortable, metal and leather everywhere. The ship was enormous, made of more wood than metal. The deck was totally flat and lined with empty wooden benches. It looked more like the churches she had seen in computer archives than any kind of ship she had ever seen. Her confusion began to clear up, but she was still unsure of what exactly was going on. Her situation hit her like a bullet to the head. She scrambled to the rail, looking out over the side. An endless river of blood stretched out in all directions. Irene collapsed to her knees in front of the rail. She never thought she’d end up here, the place from her mother’s stories about how she had to be a good girl and grow up to be an honorable person. What had she done to deserve this? Why was she being ferried on the barge of the dead? There had to be a mistake! “Why? Why am I here!?” She cried out, choking back tears. “You know better than anyone else why you’re here, Irene, daughter of P’Lor.” said a voice behind her. Irene scrambled around, her back to the rail. Standing above her, larger than life, was an older male Klingon. She remembered him from her mother’s stories, as well. “You’re Kortar, the ferryman.” “She taught you well, I see,” he replied with a faint smile. “Though not well enough, if you’re here. It’s not often that I receive half-breeds!” He ran a finger over her forehead ridges, fainter than a full Klingon’s but still prominent. She growled and slapped his hand away. Kortar let out a hmph. Irene tried to pull herself together with a deep breath. Her mind cleared further, unlocking the more rational side of her personality that knew this was all ridiculous. “None of this is real. They’re just legends. There is no afterlife. There is no Kortar, there is no barge, there is no Gre’thor…” Deep down, she knew these things were true, but in her current state she was far more vulnerable to the kinds of thoughts that were pushing her over the edge. “Do you remember what your mother told you on your Day of Ascension?” Kortar asked, with a hint of a proud smile. Irene stood up, leaning on the rail to stabilize herself. “Of course I do. She told me that nothing matters more than a warrior’s deeds. I think there was a quote from Kahless, too.” “I will summarize your deeds for you, Starfleet.” The final word came out of Kortar’s mouth with a hint of disgust. “You came up with a plan to get your friends home. Every part of the plan contained a piece of you. Your blood powered the mechanism. You ran the machinery that broke down. You crippled your vessel. You killed your shipmates. You destroyed all of that precious planet’s life. You failed! Miserably!” With each statement, Irene felt worse. “But I… but I saved the ship! I saved them! I…” Her legs went weak. “And I... I died doing it, didn’t I?” Kortar replied coldly. “If you hadn’t insisted on doing it your way from the very beginning, none of this would have happened! This is not honor! These are the deeds of a selfish brat, not a Klingon warrior!” Lightning filled the sky. “I… I can’t be dead. There’s no way. I’m not really here. I… no, none of this is happening. You’re not real! I want to go home!”
  15. The triple suns of Alpha Centauri were out over the capital. The great expanse of Decker Pack was full of people celebrating the annual Klingon Cultural Festival. There was everything you would expect at an event like that: food, arts and crafts, even 24th century carnival games. People came from all over the region to visit the festival. There weren’t just humans and Klingons, but people of many Federation races were in attendance. Proxima 4 was one of the oldest colonies of the Federation, after all. In the center of the park stood the the Grand Stage. It was a great circular platform with hundreds of seats surrounding it. People were streaming toward it from all directions as an announcement sounded: “The 43rd annual Proxima 4 Bat’leth Tournament Women’s Semi-Final is about to begin at the Grand Stage. Please make your way there.” The preparation area was a small permanent pavilion across from the Grand Stage. Inside was Irene Mincine, wearing a white training robe, warming up with a leather-wrapped and old-looking bat’leth. Her exercises looked strenuous, but Irene looked up to the challenge. She was very athletic, and also pretty bruised up from the previous days’ battles. “This is how you celebrate your high school graduation, Irene? A bat’leth tournament?” said a young human man standing in the doorway to the warm-up room. Irene planted the edge of the bat’leth on the floor and leaned on it, panting. “Jolath, what do they say about women with blades?” Jolath looked at her with an innocent look on his face. “I just thought I’d stop by and wish my favorite classmate luck before the last day of the tournament, that’s all.” She laughed, picking up a water bottle from the floor and taking a sip. “That’s a new one. Days 1 and 2 weren’t too bad. But what happened to, ‘Irene, these tournaments are dangerous,’ or ‘Irene, why do you even own a bat’leth?’” He leaned on the doorway, self-satisfied. “Well, they are dangerous. And I still don’t know why you own one of those things. Aren’t you going off to college next month? What are you going to do, cut your professor’s head off when they give you a C?” “I told you, it’s an heirloom from my grandmother, the Klingon commander I told you about,” Irene replied. “My mom didn’t want anything to do with it. Hell, she doesn’t even know I’m here. I think she’s on Earth for some… diplomat… thing. She thinks I use it for calisthenics.” “Why do they use real weapons, though?” Jolath sounded pretty concerned. Irene spoke with an air of reverence. “To make sure that both warriors try their best, and to remember that death can come at any time.” She then shrugged, like she didn’t quite understand it either. “Martial sports were conducted this way on Earth for a couple thousand years, too. It’s not like this is unique to my people.” She picked up the bat’leth once more. “Just think of it as Klingon fencing.” The PA clicked on. “Competitor Irene Mincine to the Grand Stage in ten minutes.” Irene looked up at the ceiling. “Time for you to go. Go, go, go, I need to change!” Jolath wished Irene well and left. The door closed behind him. * * * Irene Mincine walked out to the Grand Stage. She was wearing the traditional Klingon warrior’s uniform, though she didn’t look too comfortable in it. It never fit quite right on her hybrid body. Her wavy black hair was worn down, in the Klingon style, rather than her usual pony tail. Combined with her ridges, her uniform, and her scowl, she looked pretty intimidating. Her opponent walked out opposite her. She was a large, powerful Klingon woman who looked a bit older than her. Irene was worried about what she’d heard about her - K’last was the favorite to win. Not just that, but she’d heard from her defeated opponents about the dirty tricks she liked to use. Illegal moves, subtle manipulations, things that should be dishonorable. Irene, though, wasn’t a full Klingon. She was used to dishonorable actions by other Klingons, even if they wouldn’t admit it. The announcer began his spiel. “To the left… in her first competition… Irene, daughter of P’Lor, of the House of Morvath!” There was some cheering, but not from the Klingons in the crowd… Irene figured that would happen. The two Klingon competitors she had bested weren’t exactly thrilled about getting beaten by a half-breed and that presumably spread to the crowd, as well. “To the right… in her eighth competition… K’last, daughter of Rassa, of the House of Delat!” The cheering was much louder for her than for Irene. With a gong,the fight began. The two clashed immediately. Irene was younger and faster, with K’last clearly the more powerful and experienced of them. Still, Irene was able to hold her off with K’last getting angrier and angrier as it went on.After five exciting minutes, their bat’leths crashed together and the two were locked in a battle of strength. “I won’t let you beat me, Federation p’tak!” K’last spat out at Irene. “You wear our garb, but under it is the uniform and spirit of a child!” “I don’t need to be fully Klingon to kick your ass!” she responded, but she was slowly losing the test of strength. That wasn’t enough for K’last. She slid the blade up, hooking Irene’s grip. The blade slipped. Irene realized she’d been a victim of one of the most illegal moves in the sport! K’last shoved Irene’s blade away. The bat’leth clattered to the ground, a victory for K’last. In the process, she “accidentally” sunk one of the edges into Irene’s belly. “P’tak.” Irene gasped, feeling the bat’leth tear through her. She didn’t have the energy to cry out. She fell where she stood, collapsing to her knees, then to the floor while blood poured from the wound, gathering around her in a sea of red. “Get the fight doctor! There’s been a terrible accident,” the judge yelled out. Immediately, human and Klingon medical teams rushed in. K’last stood and watched her handiwork, satisfied. Irene looked up at the orange Centauri sky. She felt herself rising up, the voices of the doctors becoming quiet and distant. “She’s losing a lot of blood. Check the spleen for damage. Which one? Dammit, Klingons have two of them, don’t they…” Her vision faded to white. The last thing she remembered seeing was K’last’s -eating grin.